Is a 20-gallon Tank Big Enough for a Hamster

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The glass tank has started to be the go-to hamster cage for many hamster owners. Not only it’s durable but also because they provide more space, a panoramic view of your pet, and is great for temperature control.

The lack of suitable, spacious, and long-lasting hamster enclosure forced hamster owners to look for an alternative cage, and this is when an aquarium or glass tank comes in. However, many are still left with a big question – how big should a tank be for a hamster?

In this article, I will answer the question, “is a 20-gallon tank big enough for a hamster?”. I will also include tips on choosing a glass cage for hamsters and a list of aquarium tanks you can buy.

If you don’t know how big a hamster cage should be, we have plenty of articles about hamster cages to help you understand more about it.


Yes, a glass tank, reptile tank, or aquarium tank are suitable for hamsters as long as they meet the size requirement. So if you are still asking, can a hamster live in a glass tank, you know the answer. Some pet stores might say differently and want you to buy a critter or small cage. But the only 3 things you need to remember when buying a hamster’s enclosure are the size, its ventilation, and its ability as an escape-proof house.

If you use a glass tank such as an aquarium or reptile cage, those often don’t come with a top cover. If it doesn’t the holes are either too big or too small to provide good air ventilation. In this case, you need to remove the top cover and replace it with a mesh wire. We have a guide about mesh wire for hamster cages that you could read.

Learn more about hamster houses from our types of hamster cage article.


4 images - 2 photos of a Syrian hamster and two photos of Dwarf hamsters - Is a 20-gallon Tank Big Enough for a Hamster

No, 20 gallon hamster tank is too small for a high-energised hamster. You need at least a 40-gallon tank for a Dwarf or Chinese hamster and at least a 50-gallon tank for a Syrian hamster. Syrian hamsters need more space than Dwarf or Chinese hamsters.

This is because you need more space so you can add more toys to help your hamster stay active, moving, and ensure they thrive. Hamsters love to stay busy, hence a lot of toys and enrichment is very much needed.

Providing a small or 20-gallon tank to a hamster will not give enough space for burrowing, a place for toys, and an area to run around. If you already bought a hamster’s cage and are unsure if it’s too small, read our article “is my hamster’s cage too small“.

If it’s your first time having a pet hamster, we have a beginner’s guide in providing hamster care or simply browse our compilation of articles for first-time hamster owners.

MUST-READ: hamster enclosure for Dwarf hamsters and best cages for Syrian hamsters


No. Unfortunately, that won’t do the job. Then, what size aquarium for hamster should I provide? Hamsters need an unbroken 450-square-in space where they can run freely without thinking about when to take stairs or tubes to the connecting cage. The easiest way to see it is to imagine if a basketball player has to take an elevator, tunnel, or stairs to get to the basket.

It’s the same for hamsters, they should be able to run in a somewhat straight line to keep their body moving and burning energy. If you decide on using a spacious store-bought hamster cage, we made a compilation of the best 450-square-inch cage for hamsters.


These glass tanks for hamsters are all 40-gallon and up. You can even use a glass bookcase if you can’t find an aquarium or reptile tank but still want a glass material enclosure for your pet hamster.

For a complete list of tanks as hamster cages, check out our list of the best glass tanks for hamsters.

Aqueon Tank Breeder 40 gal

This glass tank is good enough for a Dwarf or Chinese hamster but too small for a Syrian hamster. Aqueon’s glass tank gets sold out pretty fast, make sure you plan accordingly. It doesn’t come with a top

  • size: 36X18X16 inches (91.4x46x20.6 cm)

Tetra Aquarium 55 gal

This is an incredible glass enclosure for all species of hamsters. It’s spacious and you can provide deep bedding for burrowing. There is a top cover but it’s best to remove it and use a mesh wire.

  • size: 52×24.4×16.4 inches (129.5x61x41.6 cm)

SeaClear 40 gal

If you’re looking for an acrylic glass tank, this 40-gallon from SeaClear is a perfect choice. If you want something bigger, you can opt for the 46-gallon bowfront which is actually a great option too.

  • size: 36x15x16 inches (91.4x38x40.6 cm)
  • size: 36×16.5×20 inches (91.4x42x51 cm)


Now that you have a spacious cage for your hamster, it’s time to figure out what features you can add, toys to place, and how to make the cage the best house for your hamster.

Here’s a quick list of hamster toys and accessories, but you should also take a look at our guide on how to set up a hamster’s cage:

  • running wheel
  • sand box and sand bath
  • tunnels and tubes
  • mazes
  • climbing platforms
  • just to name a few, check our list of fun hamster toys


Choosing a cage for your pet hamster can be an overwhelming task. There is so much information available out there but a lot of them are inaccurate and incorrect. A 20-gallon tank is too small for a fish, for an energetic rodent like a hamster, it’s way too small.

Before getting a hamster, it’s important to do a lot of research and not to trust the first site or YouTube video you see. Make sure to compare information across different platforms and various people to get the most helpful answer.

I hope I answered your question “is a 20-gallon tank big enough for a hamster”. If you have more questions, leave us a comment below.


A 20-gallon tank is not ideal for most hamster species as it can be too small and limit their movement. A minimum of 450 square inches of floor space is recommended. via @thehamstercareblog

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